BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Tropic of the Sea by Satoshi Kon, translated by Maya Rosewood

Tropic of the SeaThe brilliant Satoshi Kon clearly left us too early – he passed away at age 46 of pancreatic cancer in 2010. Surely, his fertile imagination had many, many more stories left to tell. Thankfully, he did leave quite a visual legacy, including such intriguing anime films as Millennium Actress, PaprikaTokyo Godfathers. But before he became internationally renowned for his anime directing, Kon began his visual career as a manga artist while still a college student.

Serialized in Japan almost a quarter century ago, Kon’s “first long-form manga,” Tropic of the Sea, hits Stateside shelves in English translation next week. In spite of its 23 years, Sea is more relevant than ever as an environmentalist parable – mermaids, 60-year-old eggs, and underwater shrines, notwithstanding! More presciently spooky than not, Sea predates the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami by more than two decades …

Change is coming all too quickly to the small seaside town of Ade. Outsiders are encroaching with their curiosity and cameras, eager to find out more about the mysterious Hiratsu Shrine. The 23rd head priest, Yozo Yashiro, has turned media savvy, ready to expose the family’s traditions and secrets. Hoping to capitalize on the luxury development happening on the once-pristine beach, Yozo is all about luring the tourists up the steep cliffs to view …  a mermaid egg. For generations upon generations, the Yashiro family has nurtured a single egg in which incubates the next mer-person over 60 years; in return, the mer-people have shared the sea’s bounty with the villagers while protecting their home from the sea’s power.

Yozo’s aging father is furious, leaping out of his hospital bed to prevent further encroachment. Yozo’s son, Yosuke, rightfully worries about the family’s future. Priest Yozo has quite the convincing argument in embracing so-called progress: “When young people move to the city, they don’t come back.” What’s the point of protecting tradition when the future looks so diminished? Yosuke and his younger friends need to figure out where they stand … and what they need to do – and fast! Because that magical mer-egg waits for no human …!

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 1990, 2011, 2013 (United States)


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